Hello everyone! I have another build for you. This time around my aunt was in serious need of a photo editing machine. She had been using Photoshop CS on a XP machine with a Pentium R and 3 GB RAM since about 2003. I was tasked with creating a new machine that would handle her photo editing, family skyping, facebooking, and Candy Crush needs. I had about $1200 to completely revamp her workstation setup from head to toe.
Goals for this build:
- Handle fairly heavy photo editing workloads
- Have plenty of storage space for large RAW images
- Have a small footprint
- Knock the socks off of the old faithful
I knew I wanted the most threads I could get within the budget constraints. I had considered a Xeon, but wanted to avoid any board compatibility problems so I chose the 4790. She will never need to overclock so the non-K version would save a little money and not require an aftermarket cooler. I had heard of this chip producing a lot of heat and this one was no exception. I undervolted, disabled Turbo-boost, reseated the stock cooler with better thermal paste, and still got temps higher than I expected. The temps were taken during 24 hour, Prime-95 testing, so they may be a little more than the usual workload, but they’re within Intel’s thermal limits.
I have used this board once before on The Mini Fridge. It’s a solid board with lots of features that you might see on a Z97 board, such as M.2 support and four display outputs. The only thing I’d like to see at this price is full audio outputs, but that’s not needed in this specific setting.
I knew that Photoshop can use lots of memory, so I opted for 16 GB. I’ve used several of these kits before and have never had a complaint. They run at the speed and latency advertised and do what I need them to do.
I wanted my Aunt to feel the speed of the SSD so I grabbed the new 850 EVO. I loaded Windows 8.1 onto it and boy does it fly. I think the benchmarks speak for themselves. The SSD is hidden underneath the optical drive. It was impossible to get a decent picture thus the reason for not having one. The Barracuda will be used to store nearly a decade of photos and edits.
I really like the all-aluminum design. It creates a very clean look while keeping the case very light, physically. The layout was definitely a challenge to work in, but I think I managed to make it work. I ended up flipping the PSU so the fan was facing the left side panel. I thought the PSU and CPU were fighting for air, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I was happy I got this on sale, as I wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise.
This system didn’t need a ton of wattage, but I wanted something that would be efficient and have the least obtrusive cables in a small case. The semi-modular design, with flat cables made this PSU great to work with. I was able to make a single SATA power cable connector work for all three SATA devices, reducing the clutter greatly. I would like to see the PCI-E cable as optional instead of hard-wired, but that’s only a minor complaint.
The Acer H236HLbid is a really pretty monitor. With IPS technology and an almost entirely edge-to-edge panel, it’s a pleasure to look at. It’s fairly basic in overall features, but the IPS technology will benefit her during her photo editing sessions.
The Logitech MK120 w/mouse is your very basic keyboard/mouse pack. If you don’t expect a lot and just let them get the job done you won’t be dissatisfied.
The Logitech Z313 speaker system is a great little package for the price. While they are nothing to brag about they work great for a small office environment. I used a set of these all through college to listen to music in my dorm/apartments and was very happy with the performance I got for so very little money.
The WD Elements 1TB external drive is for keeping backups of files as well as being able to transport pictures various photo shoots and not keeping them on the SD card. This is a basic external drive, but it will get the job done.
She requested an optical drive because many of her clients request burned CD copies of pictures.
The build itself went smoothly once I figured out how the case wanted to operate. The thermals threw me for a loop, but I was able to make it work. Overall I’m very happy with the performance of the machine and I believe she will be much happier with its’ speed and photo editing ability compared to her old machine.
Questions, comments, or concerns? Post them below, in a PM, or on my Facebook page. I’m never far away from a computer and always respond!
BENCHMARKS: using latest drivers
Hope you enjoy!